Reds Struggle In Salt Lake

Defining Moment

The first of Alvaro Saborio's two goals just three minutes from halftime put the match virtually out of the reach of Toronto FC on way to a 3-1 defeat to Real Salt Lake Saturday night in Sandy, Utah.

The Royals were happy to get Saborio back from the Gold Cup and the Costa Rica forward returned the affection to the Rio Tinto faithful with a brace. His first goal came at the 42nd minute when he got behind Doneil Henry and redirected a Robbie Russell cross inside the area to make it 2-0 RSL. For goal shy Toronto, this deficit at the intermission was a mountain too big to climb. The loss extends Toronto's MLS winless streak to nine games.

Pitch Battles

Conceding just three goals in its last four matches, including a pair of clean sheets, Toronto's backline seemed to be settling down. On Saturday however, a supremely gifted Salt Lake erased some of those gains.

18-year old Doneil Henry was rightfully praised in his last three outings, but the teenage centre back was successfully targeted by experienced Salt Lake attackers in this contest. From a corner, Nat Borchers headed in ahead of Henry to make it 1-0 for Salt Lake at the 39th minute. At the hour mark, Saborio's second goal came when the TFC defender missed a looping pass from Russell before he made it 3-0. Head coach Aron Winter indicated after the game that he plans to be patient with Henry, who is very much a part of the team's future, but has been thrust into emergency first team action following a series of injuries to defenders.

Man of the Match

Goalkeeper Stefan Frei didn't have much of a chance on any of the three goals, but on shots where he could thwart Salt Lake, such as a 25th minute effort by Will Johnson, the Swiss keeper came through. On an earlier play, Frei and left fullback Danleigh Borman combined for a double save with the keeper getting a hand to Collen Warner's shot, and his defender clearing off the line ahead of a charging Saborio.

TFC's right fullback Richard Eckersley had another competitive outing. The Englisman's ongoing duel against Johnson - one of the better wingers in MLS - nearly became personal as they collided repeatedly. Both players were cautioned in this match. Toronto's lone consolation on the score sheet came from the foot of Maicon Santos. At the 66th minute the Brazilian took advantage of a rare defensive mistake from the Royals on Saturday for his sixth league goal. 

Starting XI

Toronto - Stefan Frei; Richard Eckersley, Doneil Henry, Ty Harden, Danleigh Borman; Dan Gargan (Nick Soolsma 66'), Nathan Sturgis, Gianluca Zavarise; Javier Martina (Matt Stinson 46'), Maicon Santos, Joao Plata (Mikael Yourassowsky 46') ... Substitutes Not Used: Milos Kocic, Oscar Cordon, Ashtone Morgan, Demitrius Omphroy ... Goal: Maicon 66' ... Caution: Eckersley 58'

Salt Lake - Nick Rimando; Robbie Russell, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Tony Beltran; Ned Grabavoy (Nelson Gonzalez 67'), Kyle Beckerman, Collen Warner (Andy Williams 57'), Will Johnson; Alvaro Saborio (Jean Alexandre 81'), Luis Gil ... Substitutes Not Used: Kyle Reinish, Artur Aghasyan, Rauwshan McKenzie, Chris Schuler ... Goals: Borchers 39' Saborio 42' 60' ... Caution: Warner 48' Alexandre 84' Johnson 85'

Following Fixture

MLS Match 19
Wednesday, June 29
7:30 p.m. ET

The first of two matches in three nights between Toronto and Vancouver - an MLS tilt - will be the warmup for the more important July 2 NCC Final second leg for a place in the CONCACAF Champions League preliminary round. It will be interesting to see the tactics employed in this match and if either team rests key stars ahead of the second clash. Toronto sits one point ahead of Vancouver (15-14) at the foot of the league table. The Whitecaps will be motivated to pass their Canadian counterparts in the standings.

Tickets: June 29
Tickets: July 2

Touchline Tales

Many observers believe Salt Lake is the class of MLS, a team that all others should aim to emulate and it showed. A talented squad without notable superstars and deprived of top playmaker Javier Morales, the Royals showed regal flare against an equally injury depleted Toronto in all areas of the pitch. Attempts on goal were 19-6 for Salt Lake, which resulted in a 10-1 advantage for shots on target. Jason Kreis' team also enjoyed a staggering 70% possession in this game and as a result their 591 total passes more than doubled Toronto's 250.

The caution picked up by Eckersley is his fourth of the season. He will have to serve a one game suspension should his fifth caution arrive in the next three league games.